Useful Bible Studies > 1 Kings Commentary > chapter 18

Elijah runs in front of Ahab’s chariot

1 Kings 18:45-46

Carmel is about 16 miles (25 kilometres) from Jezreel, where Ahab had a palace (21:1). The route between them is along the valley of the river called Kishon (see 1 Kings 18:40). It is necessary to cross the river near to Jezreel. That is easy to do in dry weather, because the upper part of the river dries up.

Ahab would have ridden on a chariot, a simple vehicle with wheels, which horses pulled. On good, firm ground, chariots can move quickly. However, Elijah had to warn Ahab to leave at once. Although there was only a tiny cloud in the sky, that cloud was evidence of a great storm. The ground would become muddy, and the rivers would fill with water. If Ahab did not leave now, he would be unable to complete the journey.

So, Ahab left. As he went, the skies quickly filled with dark black clouds. It became very windy. Then, as Elijah had said, the rain began. It had not rained in Israel for three years but now, at last, the rain had come.

God gave extraordinary strength to Elijah that day. It was the custom for a great man to employ fast runners among his servants (2 Samuel 15:1). They would run in front of that man’s chariot, to make the way clear for him. On this journey, Elijah served Ahab in this way. Elijah even raised his long clothes, as servants did, to make it easier to run quickly. We do not know Elijah’s age at this time, but he was probably not a young man. Elijah did this to show that he supported Ahab’s rule as king. It was only Ahab’s wrong religion that Elijah, and the true God, opposed. Elijah genuinely cared about Ahab – and so did God.

Next part: Jezebel promises to kill Elijah (1 Kings 19:1-2)


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